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They studied, they conquered... and now they wait for jobs

Selected candidates at a dharna in Bhopal demanding appointments.

Selected candidates at a dharna in Bhopal demanding appointments.  

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91 meritorious backward community women in limbo despite clearing test to teach in M.P. colleges

Whenever neighbours jeered Huma Akhtar, 28, about her persistent, never-ending pursuit for studies, she retorted: “It is the only sure way to get a job.” She didn’t stop at securing the 3rd university rank at MSc in mathematics, but aced the State Eligibility Test, grabbed SRF scholarship, and is in the last leg of a PhD. Yet her faith in academics seems to be wavering.

Clearing a government examination with a State rank of 58 would be enough to land the dream job of assistant professor, she thought, but the excruciating delay in the appointment of 91 candidates — meritorious women from backward communities — is slowly killing dreams, including hers.

“Was it our fault that we studied well and secured top ranks?” she asks. Left with just another year of ₹35,000 a month as scholarship, Ms. Akhtar, an OBC, supports a family of four in Bhopal — father who left work three years ago, an ageing mother, sister engaged in making bridal mehendi and a brother continuously switching jobs.

The 91 women — 70 from the OBCs, 18 from the SCs and three from the STs — who performed so well that they were adjusted in the unreserved category as per convention, faced the wrath of unselected general category candidates who moved the court claiming infringement of rights. Initially, the High Court ordered a stay on the adjustment, but a month later in October directed the State government to restore them to original categories, and allow them to pick colleges of their choice, thereby beginning the process.

The first rankers in geography and English, and 11 candidates in the top 15 across categories and genders all come from the meritorious lot. “I gave up an opportunity at the Defence Research and Development Organisation just to prepare for the exam,” says Sanskriti Damade from Bhopal, who secured the 2nd rank in psychology, is a university topper, cleared the National Eligibility Test and is pursuing a PhD. “Yet those behind us in the merit list have joined work, and we’re left on the streets to protest.”

Meanwhile, 2,600 other candidates, selected through the examination conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission two years ago, joined duty on December 6. “Is this natural justice?”asks Kirti Patel, from Barwani district, who secured 52nd rank in law. “Capable women, that too from backward communities, are being held back from rising in society.”

In October, the court had directed the State government and the MPPSC to extend the date of choice filling by seven days, after candidates were restored to their original categories.

“Their seats have been blocked and no appointments have been made on them. The government is cautious about the legality of the matter,” D.P. Ahuja, Higher Education Commissioner, told The Hindu. Yet, he clarified, “Candidates were given the leverage of only choice filling according to the direction. Their appointment shall be kept in abeyance until a final clarification or order is issued by the court.”

At the next hearing on Monday, the State government would inform the court in case of no objection, it was ready to appoint the women. “The petitioners in the case are general category women seeking reservation in the unreserved category,” he said.

They were in the merit anyway, in the unreserved category or the reserved one, he added. “In case they are restored to their original categories, the 91 at the bottom of the merit will be moved to the waiting list,” said Mr. Ahuja.

Ms. Damade said the other candidates appointed in 2019 would have an edge in increments. “At least for 10-15 years, seniority will depend on marks and not experience,” clarified Mr. Ahuja.

The government had exhorted guest faculty members, demanding regularisation through back door entry, to seek it through the examination, for which they enjoy age relaxation and extra 20 marks for a maximum of five years of experience. More than half of the 91 women have been guest faculty members.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:06:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/they-studied-they-conquered-and-now-they-wait-for-jobs/article30546708.ece

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